Friday, September 18, 2009

R.I.P.: Frank Batten Sr., a great newspaperman

Frank Batten Sr., who died last week at 82, was remembered yesterday as a newspaperman's newspaperman who built a major media company that included many rural newspapers and metro papers with large rural audiences.

"I think Frank Batten was probably the most respected active newspaperman by other newspaper people," Frank Daniels, former publisher of the Raleigh News & Observer and a former director of Landmark Communications, now Landmark Media Enterprises LLC. "He was a publisher who knew that news is paramount to a newspaper's success."

Philip Walzer of Landmark's Virginian-Pilot writes, "Batten was lovingly recalled for his fierce competitiveness, unflinching ethical standards and unerring business acumen. ... Starting with a pair of local papers, Batten built one of the country's largest privately held media companies, standing up for racial integration early in his career. He launched The Weather Channel in 1982, proving wrong the industry know-it-alls who scoffed at the notion of round-the-clock weather news." (Read more)

Landmark sold The Weather Channel to NBC Universal last year and has been trying to sell its newspapers, but the depressed newspaper market has prevented that. The company includes 56 paid-circulation communty papers.

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